Call 413.540.1234 to
schedule an appointment
CONCERN/EAP: 413.534.2625
Billing questions? Call: 413.540.1212
CRISIS: 413.733.6661

Wellness and Personal Development
Basic InformationLatest News
Want to Live Longer? Just Sit a Bit Less Each DayHappiness High in States With Lots of Parks, LibrariesLook to Your Aunts, Uncles and Parents for Clues to Your LongevityMillennials' Odds for Depression Rise With Social Media UseAHA: Could Phosphate Additives in Foods Make You Less Active?Catching Up on News About Catch-Up SleepWill Cutting Out Booze for 'Dry January' Help Your Health?Health Tip: Avoid Cellphone Use While DrivingKeep Your Skin Glowing With Good Health in 2019Ring in the New Year Resolved to Improve Your HealthLoneliness Doesn't Take a HolidayBuilding the Bonds of FriendshipHow to Handle Holiday StressorsTake Time for 'Me Time'It Really Is Better to Give Than ReceiveHere's to a Healthy Holiday SeasonPut Fire Safety at the Top of Your To-Do Holiday ListThat Gift of Exercise Might Go to WasteMove Over, Air Filter. Scientists Have a Greener IdeaThe Link Between Social Media and Depression3 in 4 Americans Struggle With LonelinessPractice Patience for a Happier, Healthier YouBeware of Stressful Events in the EveningHolidays Hike Heart Attack RiskCould You Be Short on Vitamin D?Health Tip: Improve Your Sleep HabitsToo Much Time in the Sun? Skin Patch Might TellMore Green Space May Mean a Healthier HeartWorking More, But Getting Less Done?What Couch Potatoes Don't Know Can Hurt ThemAre You Better at Remembering Faces or Names? The Surprising AnswerA Healthier Diet, a Healthier You1 in 4 U.S. Adults Sits More Than 8 Hours a DayYet Another Selfie? You Might Be a NarcissistAll That Social Media May Boost Loneliness, Not Banish ItBaby Boom or Baby Bust? What Nation-by-Nation Population Trends RevealEven a 2-Minute Walk Counts in New Physical Activity GuidelinesHealth Tip: Keep Toxins from Your HomeAHA: Poor Teeth-Brushing Habits Tied to Higher Heart RiskSleepy Drivers Involved in 100,000 Crashes a YearThink Genes Dictate Your Life Span? Think AgainA Childhood Full of Happy Memories Might Benefit Your Health TodaySunday Is 'Fall Back' Time for Your Clock -- Sleep Experts Offer TipsDecorative Contact Lenses a Danger at Halloween, Any TimeAHA: Can Daylight Saving Time Hurt the Heart? Prepare Now for SpringFacebook Posts May Hint at DepressionHere's Something to Sleep OnDrowsy Driving as Risky as Drunk DrivingScience Says 'Hug It Out'What's Your Savings Personality?
LinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Anger Management
Stress Reduction and Management
Emotional Resilience

Why 'False News' Spreads Faster Than Truth

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Mar 8th 2018

new article illustration

THURSDAY, March 8, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Amid growing concerns about the impact of "fake news," a new study finds that false stories take off much faster than truth on Twitter.

The study, of news and rumors shared by 3 million Twitter users, found that false information spreads more quickly and further than accurate information.

Falsities were about 70 percent more likely to be "retweeted" than truth, said the researchers. They were led by Sinan Aral, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, Mass.

False stories often came from "bots" -- automated accounts that impersonate real users. But it seemed that humans were the main reason that fiction spread faster than fact.

Reports of false information related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election put the spotlight on the power of false news to influence public opinion.

With midterm elections approaching, false news remains a concern.

In this study, "novelty" seemed to be key, Aral's team said.

False stories typically contained something new or surprising -- whereas true stories could get repetitive.

"People are more likely to spread novel information, which favors the spread of falsity over the truth," Aral said in a statement.

And what is the impact of all this fast-moving false information? No one knows yet, said Filippo Menczer, a professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University Bloomington.

"It's very challenging to study how this actually affects people," Menczer said.

Propaganda and manipulation have existed for a long time, he noted. But the rapid, widespread dissemination of false information via social media is new.

And it's a concern, Menczer said.

He is the co-author of a perspective piece published with the study in the March 9 issue of Science.

For the study, Aral's team analyzed about 126,000 stories tweeted by roughly 3 million Twitter accounts between 2006 and 2017. They included traditional news media stories and also tweets that were spreading rumors or claims.

The researchers verified the accuracy of the stories by consulting fact-checking websites that investigate media information and widely circulating rumors -- like and

The investigators found that, overall, false stories were retweeted much more often than true stories. For example, truth "rarely" diffused to more than 1,000 people, whereas the top 1 percent of false-news tweets routinely reached anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 people, according to the report.

The truth was also slow-moving, the study found. True information took, on average, six times longer to reach 1,500 people, compared with false stories.

And while bots were often spreading falsehoods, they disseminated true stories at the same rate, the researchers said. Instead, humans seemed to be the driving force behind false stories' popularity.

Menczer agreed that "novelty" helps explain why people retweet false information.

But there are other factors, he said.

If a fishy-sounding tweet happens to align with what you already believe, you will be less likely to question it, Menczer noted.

For example, he said, if you "already dislike Donald Trump," and see a tweet about some outrageous thing he did, you may well have an emotional reaction and hit that "retweet" button without much thought.

"If I'm just reacting on an emotional level and clicking 'retweet,' then I can become part of the problem," Menczer said.

Twitter provided the data for the study and funded the work. But the researchers said they cannot comment on how the company might use the findings.

Menczer said that Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites have a responsibility to address "fake news," and have taken some steps. Twitter, for example, announced that it blocked some accounts linked to Russian misinformation, and alerted users exposed to the accounts that they might have been "duped."

But Menczer said that to truly address the problem, he believes the sites should work with academic researchers, and not just use their own in-house researchers.

For now, he suggested, people may want to be more cautious about clicking those easy "like" and "share" buttons.

"Remember that any of us can be manipulated," Menczer said. "It's not just 'other people.'"

More information

The Center for Digital Ethics and Policy has more on ethical online behavior.